Gary Carson’s “Casino Poker” occupies that niche of books aimed at the crowd who learned how to play poker with pennies on the dining room table and are smart enough to know they need a bit more understanding before they take it to the casino. The experienced player will already know a lot of what Carson is imparting, except perhaps for the 5-dimensional type of poker individuality, i always found to be the book’s best material.
Beginners who read this book won’t automatically be become poker-ninjas. However, if they’re heading down to Sin city with a thousand bucks and wild eyes, they will be in significantly better position to guard their holiday poker-roll. They will also be far idn poker more likely to recognize their own limitations, spot a soft game, and try their fortunes with a few decent tools on the belt. If you are that beginner, this book can save you its cost of purchase ($14. 97 US/$20. 97 CAN) and probably allow you to scoop a big pot or two for bragging protection under the law back. Carson highlights basics of sound poker: position, aggression, basic chances, and tells. He also devotes brief chapters to the rules and basic strategies of hold’em, 7-stud, and Omaha (high and split).
The book’s unique contribution to poker literature is Carson’s 5-dimensional type of poker players. Most people who plays poker recognizes Joe Schoonmaker’s tight-loose and passive-aggressive dimensions. Carson finds these two dimensions insufficient, and he adds three more of their own: weak-tenacious, rational-irrational, and tricky-straightforward. The weak-tenacious dimension, for instance, refers to whether players hang in a hand or collapse to stiff bets — something you can’t easily discern simply from knowing if your villain is tight and aggressive. The rational-irrational dimension describes whether a player is in the game for the money (rational) in order to meet other emotional needs (irrational). The tricky-straightforward dimension is an assessment of tendencies to choose to bluff or slowplay. I really do wish Carson had elaborated these dimensions further. He clearly possesses a deep familiarity with poker players’ styles, and the material deserves at least a chapter of its, rather than the few pages he gives it.
The book also has a few disadvantages. Since it is specifically aimed at live cardroom play, online players will find little in here which discusses unique facets of online play. The hand and play examples are primarily derived from limit hold’em, which was the game usually spread by live casinos in 2004. How times have changed in three short years. Players with an interest in limit will do well by this book, but the NLH masses are out in the cold, apart from the advice of using position and preferring aggression.
The book’s chief a weakness is its chapter on contest play, a skimpy 11 pages. However, in 2004, live cardroom poker tourneys were hardly ever seen outside of Sin city until they exploded into popularity on television. A certain 3 volume series by Serta Harrington was still two years in the future, so tourneys probably did look like unknown creatures.